14th May2020

Digital Shorts: ‘Ghost Sweeper’ & ‘Fledgling Heroes’ Reviews (Switch)

by Phil Wheat

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at not one but TWO new indie games, Ghost Sweeper and Fledgling Heroes, both of which are now available on the Nintendo Switch.

GHOST SWEEPER

Ghost Sweeper is a puzzle-platformer set in a cartoon fantasy world, and sees you play as the titular sweepers, noble warriors armed with weapons (there’s two of them to choose from: one has a vacuum which can suck in ghosts and the other that has a fire ball gun – neither of which are really key to completing any level) that let them create and destroy blocks, as well as suck up any supernatural spirits. Players must manipulate each stage’s architecture as they search for coins, keys, and other goodies while eliminating the ghostly threat and making their way to the exit.

Billed as a game that harkens back to the days of classic puzzle platformers like Solomon’s Key, Ghost Sweeper was originally released on PC and mobile (not another mobile port!) way back in 2016 and is only now being ported to the Nintendo Switch, which should tell you something about how easy it is to develop for the Switch and how Nintendo have made its handheld hybrid yet another home – like the Wii before it – for shovelware.

Honestly, for all intents and purposes, Ghost Sweeper IS a Solomon’s Key clone. Now if you’re a fan of that game, you’ll probably love this one – especially as Ghost Sweeper perfectly captures the spirit of the 80s puzzle games it tries to emulate. It’s just a shame that games have moved on since then and as such this title feels a more dated rather than retro. Booting the game up I couldn’t help but feel like Ghost Sweeper would be perfectly suited to being found at one of Blackpool’s many rundown arcades – hiding in the corner, with the cabinet artwork peeling away and the coin slot only asking 10p a go. The game feels sluggish, and the slow pace really didn’t connect with me as much as the developers were probably hoping it would. But then I’m NOT the target audience for this one. Yes, I owned the NES port of Solomon’s Key, but did I play it? Nope. It was part of the collection instead.

What block-moving game did I play on the NES? Kickle Cubicle. Now THAT is a retro title I’d like to see come to the Switch. For now, I’ll make do with Ghost Sweeper and keep my fingers crossed!

FLEDGLING HEROES

Described as a side-scrolling “flap ‘em up” Fledgling Heroes sees you play as brave birds – from Macaws to Penguins and everything in between, some of which are a LOT harder to control than others, leading to frustration at times – taking on a wild world. Each feathered friend has their own treacherous tale to tell as they dodge dastardly pirate lizards, dash through frozen forests, dive through sunken temples, and flap their way from fledglings to fully-fledged heroes.

So essentially, the developer has taken the idea of Flappy Bird and added tasks like collecting a set amount of coins, treasure, or knocking out jellyfish sharks and pirate lizards. Don’t complete the tasks don’t get enough feathers to unlock later levels. Simple. And despite the fact Fledgling Heroes also features a fully customisable online level editor enabling you to build and test your levels against their friends or players online, that’s all this game will ever be. Simple.

This is a free mobile game at best. Yes, I get that the developer, Australian indie studio Subtle Boom, has created a massive 90 levels to play, with cute characters you can customise, that there’s 4 different game modes: conquer quest levels, speed through rings in race levels, flap the furthest in endless levels, and go head-to-head with bosses… But this is STILL just a Flappy Bird clone! Which is why this game first found a home on Apple Arcade – making this yet another mobile port on the Switch, at inflated Switch prices.

Yes it’s charming, yes it’s cute, and yes it’s definitely family-friendly – plus couch co-op is included too – but Fledgling Heroes still, unfortunately feels like yet another slice of Nintendo Switch mobile-port shovelware.
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Ghost Sweeper and Fledgling Heroes are both available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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